The treatment my brother received was appalling and I’m certain a huge element of that is linked to his race.

        - Donna Mooney, sister of Tommy Nicol who died in HMP The Mount in September 2015

On 20 October we held a webinar to discuss the ground-breaking findings from our recently published report on the deaths of racialised people in prison. 

The report makes a powerful intervention as it uncovers new data and tells the stories of 22 racialised people and how they died preventable and premature deaths in prison. It shines a light on the deaths of racialised people in prisons as among the most contentious, violent and neglectful, and calls into question the silence on issues of racism and discrimination in inquests and other post-death investigations. 

The webinar was chaired by Dr Patrick Williams, an academic at Manchester Metropolitan University whose research specialises in racial disparity and differential treatment within the criminal justice system. 

The webinar provided an opportunity for Deborah Coles – Director of INQUEST – and Jessica Pandian – INQUEST’s Policy and Research Officer and author of the report – to analyse and explain the new data uncovered on the deaths of racialised people in prison. 

They highlighted the distinct issues and recurring patterns that emerged from the deaths of 22 racialised people featured in the report, and the failures of post-death investigations to address or account for the potential role of racism or discrimination in their deaths. 

Deborah Coles explained “it's the human stories behind the statistics that really do give us that incontrovertible evidence about the failing in the duty of care of prisons, and really damning evidence about human rights abuses.”  

Donna Mooney also spoke at length about what the findings in the report mean to her, and the action and change she hopes to see going forward. Her brother, Tommy, died whilst serving an IPP sentence in HMP The Mount in September 2015, and is included among the 22 stories highlighted in the report. 

Donna particularly emphasised her support for the introduction of a national oversight mechanism to ensure that recommendations from post-death investigations are implemented in order to  prevent future deaths. 

She said: “You have recommendation after recommendation from reports by the Prison and Probation Ombudsman that absolutely never get implemented. And if they did, if it was an effective system as it stands, we wouldn't be sitting here today talking about the deaths that just continue to happen” 

This was echoed later on by Deborah Coles as she spoke of the recommendations made in the report and the changes that are even more necessary in light of the report’s findings.  

She said that more focused investigation and oversight which “meaningfully considers the race or ethnicity of those who die in prison” and the potential role of racism or discrimination in their death, is urgently needed in the short term. But also emphasised that an end to these deaths in prison requires large-scale, transformative change.  

INQUEST is calling for an end to prison building, and a redirection of resources away from the criminal justice system and towards welfare, health, housing, education and social care.